Auburn University Faculty Awards

Auburn University Faculty Awards

2013 Alumni Professors

Alumni Professor: recognizes 25 faculty members for research, publishing, and teaching by awarding five-year, non-renewable professorships through the Auburn Alumni Association. The Alumni Writer-in-Residence, a creative writer from the English faculty, is the only ongoing appointment.

Ellen N. Behrend, Joezy Griffin Professor, Department of Clinical Sciences
College of Veterinary Medicine

PhD — Auburn University
MS — Colorado State University
VMD — University of Pennsylvania

Portrait photograph of Ellen N. Behrend

"There have been, in fact, many people in my life who have inspired me: my parents and family, friends, colleagues, and teachers. Most especially, inspiration has come from my students and the owners of all the pets I have had the privilege of treating. They all provide encouragement and expect me to perform my best, both in my profession and as a human being."

Ellen N. Behrend's research interest lies in clinical endocrinology with an emphasis on diagnostic testing and diseases of the canine adrenal glands. She has authored numerous scientific publications and book chapters, served as endocrine section editor for editions of Consultations in Feline Internal Medicine and Kirk's Current Veterinary Therapy, and was the editor for the canine chapters of Clinical Endocrinology of Companion Animals. Behrend has been on the review board for two journals and is currently serving on the Small Animal Advisory Panel for Morris Animal Foundation and holds a position on the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Board of Regents. She has provided numerous continuing education lectures at national and international conferences. Behrend received the Daniels Award for Excellence in Small Animal Endocrinology and has twice won the Zoetis Distinguished Teaching Award in the College of Veterinary Medicine. Behrend is married to Charles Markle, and they have two children: Elise and Stephen.

Virginia A. Davis, Mary and John H. Sanders Associate Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering
Samuel Ginn College of Engineering

PhD — Rice University
Master of Engineering, BS — Tulane University

Portrait photograph of Virginia A. Davis

"I believe everyone has an inspiring story to tell. I have been very blessed to be surrounded by many incredibly inspiring people who were willing to share their stories with me. Some have inspired me with their intellect, some with their talents, some with their persistence, some with their faith and optimism, some with their kindness, and others with their ability to overcome obstacles."

Virginia A. Davis' research is primarily focused on using fluid phase processing to assemble cylindrical nanomaterials into larger functional materials. Targeted applications include sensors, optical coatings, antimicrobial surfaces, high-strength and light-weight composites, and thermal interface materials. Her national awards include the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers in 2010, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers Nanoscale Science and Engineering Forum's Young Investigator Award in 2012, and a National Science Foundation CAREER Award in 2009. Other Auburn University awards include the Engineering Alumni Council Awards for Senior and Junior Faculty Research in 2013 and 2009, respectively, Faculty Women of Distinction Award in 2012, and the Mark A. Spencer Creative Mentorship Award in 2011. Davis serves as the secretary/treasurer of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers Nanoscale Science and Engineering Forum and is the advisor for Auburn's Society of Professional Hispanic Engineers Student Chapter. She is married to Edward W. Davis, senior lecturer in Auburn's Department of Polymer and Fiber Engineering, and they have one son, Benjamin.

Valentina Hartarska, Professor, Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology
College of Agriculture
Joint appointment in the Department of Finance
Raymond J. Harbert College of Business

PhD — The Ohio State University
MA — Central European University, Hungary and University of Essex, United Kingdom Management Certificate – Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration, Austria
BA — University of National and World Economy, Sofia, Bulgaria

Portrait photograph of Valentina Hartarska

"Today, I strive to set a good example of a professional, a wife, and a mother for my daughter. This award motivates me to strive for excellence in my research, teaching, and outreach and to contribute to promote Auburn University as an institution that recognizes and nourishes excellence."

Valentina Hartarska acquired her higher education in six countries and speaks five languages. Her research and outreach efforts are in the areas of microfinance, rural finance, economic development, and banking. She has published in high-impact finance and economics journals. Her work has been funded by and presented at the World Bank, the Federal Reserve System, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Farm Credit Council, Fulbright, Borlaug, the United States Agency for International Development, and universities and industry groups in more than 10 countries in Europe, Asia, and Africa. Hartarska is the master's program officer, has advised more than 30 graduate students, and her doctoral students have found jobs in academic institutions and in commercial banks. Next spring, Hartarska will be on sabbatical at the Free University of Brussels in Belgium to study how changes in financial regulation post-2008 have affected microfinance institutions' efficiency and impacts. She is married to Denis Nadolnyak, and they have one daughter, Nikita.

Peter D. Johnson Jr., Professor, Department of Mathematics and Statistics
College of Sciences and Mathematics

PhD — University of Michigan
BS — Brown University

Portrait photograph of Peter D. Johnson Jr.

"I take this award to be an honor bestowed upon my ‘tribe' – my college, my department, and especially my research group, without whom I would not have accomplished much."

Upon completing his PhD in 1973, Peter D. Johnson Jr. spent one year at Emory University, then 1974-80 at the American University of Beirut. He returned to the United States in 1978-79, where he says he spent his time making connections. Those connections led to a temporary position at Auburn University in 1980, which became a tenure-track position in 1982. He's been at Auburn since, except for two-and-a-half years in the 1980s that were spent at the University of Reading in England. Johnson was named a Foundation Fellow of the Institute of Combinatorics and its Applications in 1992 and received the College of Sciences and Mathematics Dean's Faculty Research Award in 2006. He also received the Dean's Award for Outstanding Teacher in 2009. Johnson says his colleagues, especially those in the Combinatorics research group, are his favorite thing about Auburn, and that without them his academic career would have been much less fruitful.

Lisa Jean Samuelson, Dwain G. Luce Endowed Professor of Forestry
School of Forestry and Wildlife Science

PhD — Virginia Tech
MS, BS — University of Georgia

Portrait photograph of Lisa Jean Samuelson

"My biggest source of inspiration has been my MS, PhD, and post-doctoral advisors who shared with me their love of science and education and gave me many opportunities to succeed in my career. I also am inspired by the creativity, humor, and resilience of the students I teach."

Lisa Samuelson is the director of the Center for Longleaf Pine Ecosystems at Auburn University. She joined Auburn's faculty in 1994, after working with the Tennessee Valley Authority, where she studied air pollution effects on forests. Her general research interests focus on tree physiological responses to environmental and silvicultural influences. Her current research projects include examining climate change response and carbon cycling in Southern pine forests. She is also studying genetic variation in ecophysiological traits of longleaf pine to improve future deployment of different seed sources in longleaf pine ecosystem restoration. Samuelson has authored more than 50 peer-reviewed publications on tree physiology, three tree identification texts, and a popular Trees of Alabama website. Her teaching responsibilities include undergraduate and graduate courses in tree physiology. She previously was named the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences Forestry Club Teacher of the Year and received the Harold E. Christian Award for service to teaching.